Refresh is right around the corner. We’re meeting for one day only this year, on Thursday, October 1, from 1 pm to 8:30 pm, at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Billings. I hope you’re making plans to join us. Unfortunately, some things will be different this year. Most importantly, we aren’t going to be offering childcare. We deeply regret this, but there were too many uncertainties about what the situation with the COVID virus might be like once the weather turns cold. If we’re still under mask and distancing requirements, which seems likely, we couldn’t ensure parents that their children were going to have the protections that they might want them to have. We also couldn’t ensure that we could find all the childcare workers that we needed. Then there is the whole question of making sure children’s spaces are adequately cleaned and disinfected.
Because we aren’t going to be offering childcare, we know some of our folks will not be able to join us. With an anticipated lower attendance and so much uncertainty about the kinds of challenges we’ll face as the COVID virus meets the colder weather, we decided to make Refresh a one-day event this year. Many of you will be able to drive in and leave on the same day. We’re hoping that this shorter schedule will help you make the decision to attend.
It may be only a one-day event, but we have a lot packed into that one day. On top of the list are Jeff and Ann Iorg. Dr. Iorg will bring our closing message and he’ll also lead a breakout session for us to talk about ministry in the current environment. As a seminary president in California, Dr. Iorg is seeing how churches all over the west are responding to the current challenges. He has a lot of very important information and ideas to share. In addition, his wife Ann will be leading a breakout for pastors’ wives. Our pastors’ wives often bear the burdens of ministry in silence. They see the toll that ministry has on their husbands and children and often have no one to talk to. With things as crazy as they’ve been lately, we’re sure our pastors’ wives will be blessed by Mrs. Iorg’s ministry. We’re also sure they’ll enjoy some time together.
In addition, we have some important decisions to make. We’ll be voting on a budget for 2021. The budget for 2021 will be different than you’ve seen in previous years. The closing of churches because of COVID has created significant pressure on our SBC entities. As a result, they won’t be helping to support our statewide work like they have been. We’re going to lose $60,000 of support from LifeWay Christian Resources and $50,000 of support from the North American Mission Board. In addition, the Cooperative Program contributions from our own churches are down about 15% compared to 2019. When we incorporate all these changes, we’re going to be proposing a leaner budget for 2021. I think you’ll be encouraged by all that we will still be able to do.
The Executive Board will also be proposing that we enter into a new seven-year ministry partnership with the Missouri Baptist Convention. Our three-year partnership with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention will be concluding at the end of this year. We had some benefits from that partnership, but it wasn’t long enough to enable us to create the kinds of church-to-church partnerships that we want to have. A seven-year partnership gives us the time we need to get word to the churches and develop some close ties. The Missouri Baptist Convention leadership is very committed to this opportunity. Their Executive Director, church planting director, and their wives have already toured the state and visited with pastors. Their Executive Board has even already voted unanimously to recommend this partnership to their churches when they gather for their annual meeting a few weeks after our meeting, if we vote for it. I hope you’ll be with us so we can celebrate the successes of our partnership with Texas Baptists and I can share with you what we can expect from a partnership with Missouri Baptists.
In addition to these and other decisions we need to make, we’ll have lots of times for worship and fellowship, including 2 hours set aside for dinner. I’m confident you’ll be glad you spent the day together. In fact, we’re so certain that we need this time together, that the MTSBC is offering to pay for a room on Thursday night, October 1, at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center for the first 50 qualifying pastors who request one. The only requirements are that pastors must live more than 200 miles away from Billings and must commit to stay for the entire event. If you want one of these free rooms, let Bree Jones know. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You need to decide quickly, though. Our block of rooms expires on September 15. These rooms are available on a first come, first served basis. When the rooms are gone, they’re gone. We want you to join us for this time of refreshing and decision-making.
I hope you’ll join us. I’m sure you’ll be glad you did. See you then.